Subject matter: self management
Author: Dr Chris Johnstone
Publisher: Permanent Publications, May 2010
Find Your Power describes how to strengthen your ability to bring about positive change, both in your life and our world. Drawing on insights from addictions recovery, positive psychology, storytelling and holistic science, it includes proven strategies for improving mood, building strengths and increasing effectiveness.
The first part of the book introduces motivational enhancement tools that help you become clearer about your direction and more inspired to move that way.
The second part offers tools for getting through blocks by looking at creative problem solving strategies, ways of dealing with fear and methods for transforming crisis or failure into turning points.
The third part explores how to keep yourself going in the marathon of longer term change by strengthening support around you, tapping into purposes bigger than yourself and making what you do more enjoyable.
The tools described can be used for any kind of change, from tackling depression and improving your life through to addressing world issues like peak oil and climate change.
Reviews of the book:
“I have read many, many books relating to the concepts of personal power/change, and I think this is by far the most helpful and useful”.
Patricia Gaya Wicks, Lecturer in Leadership Studies, University of Exeter.
"Have you ever been told: ‘You can't change it, you just have to accept it’? This book turns that view on its head. Chris Johnstone focuses on helping people access their own motivational force; redesigning elements of the way that they think so they are not held back; integrating positive visionary thinking, planning, doing and reviewing; and developing trust and confidence in oneself.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book.”
Richard Velleman, Professor of Mental Health Research, University of Bath
“You are going to love this book. It is fun and encouraging as well as being full of good tips and activities. It brings the complex notion of personal power to life, offers insight into our errors as a species and invites a sense of soul and purpose to our journey. I can't recommend it more highly."
Jane Reed, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Education, University of London
“Simple to use but powerful in effect, this is a remarkable book”
Dr Kathleen Sullivan, Consultant to the United Nations, New York
“Building resilience” conversation about Dr. Johnstone’s new book
About Chris Johnstone:
Chris Johnstone is a medical doctor, addictions specialist and empowerment coach with over twenty years experience of training people in the skills and strengths of positive change.
He qualified in medicine, with distinction, in 1986, after a first degree specializing in psychology. In 1989, he made international headlines when he launched a ground-breaking legal action challenging the long working hours of doctors. Although initially dismissed as a no-hoper in law, after six years and ten court hearings, he eventually won his case.
The experience that you could defy pessimism and bring about a successful outcome, even if this initially seemed unlikely, stimulated an enduring interest in the psychology of breakthroughs. He trained in a wide range of approaches to facilitating change, including humanistic psychology, motivational interviewing, positive psychology, family therapy, groupwork and systemic interventions with organisations. Applying these approaches in the addictions field and in his training work, he further refined the tools he presents in this book.
Key messages from the interview:
In a deep crisis we will get hits and we have to accept these hits as emotional bruises and need to take care of them just like we do with a physical bruise.
We can prepare ourselves better for future crisis and rough times through a kind of scenario planning where we think through various scenarios and prepare our responses.
We can use a method which Chris calls the SSRI approach. He uses this in analogy with the drugs containing SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, a group of drugs that include Prozac) which are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants. In his approach this means: Strategies, Strengths, Resources and Insights. Have your strategies thought through, focus on your strengths, be conscious of the resources you have available, and gain insights through using contacts.
He emphasizes that such self-help processes can also have a powerful anti-depressant effect which has been demonstrated in various research studies.
Right now a lot of leaders have been through and are emerging from a major crisis. Considering how the global situation looked from the outset it was not clear how or if at all companies would survive and with them their employees including their leaders.
To emerge from any crisis stronger than we went into, as leaders, we need to focus on three factors in ourselves to gain or regain additional strength:
• Connect to our inner foundations,
• unearth our strong value base and
• build enhanced resilience.
Before jumping right into what these mean let us first explore what factors are at play in a crisis, externally and internally, and what their effects are on us as leaders.
The biggest effects stem from things happening ‘close to home’: Job’s news in the company, drastic cuts in budgets and job losses amongst friends around us have the potential to stoke the inner unrest and create subliminal stress. In addition, the impact of a crisis has on us is also influenced by the media even if our direct environment has not (yet) been affected by it. Journalists tend to look for the biggest most dramatic stories available and sometimes paint exaggerated pictures. Even if we are aware of such tendencies it will still affect us subconsciously. In some of us those external factors meet internal ones which in combination increase inner unrest and stress further. Internal factors can also be enhanced by challenging self beliefs, mental models questioning our leadership or real limitations of our ability to deal with uncertainty and the unknown. Not all of us are born to be deep sea explorers.
As an effect, our ability to remain decisive and show strong leadership may be significantly impaired by all the stress triggered by these internal and external factors. Yet, in a crisis more than usual we as leaders are expected to be decisive and demonstrate strong leadership.
So, how can we strengthen ourselves or those leaders who report to us in troubled times? As mentioned in the beginning; there are three factors which can help enormously in such situations:
1. Connect to our inner foundations
We can achieve this by better understanding our personal foundations and what they are based on. Do we know what is really important to us? Not just right now, but what is important to give our life a deeper meaning? When we are clear on this part, we need to refresh our awareness of our real strengths. Too often, under stress we may get logged into thoughts about our weaknesses. And yet, we are much better off focusing on our strengths and use these to help us getting on top of things. Both combined allow us to draw much more energy from these deep roots to enhance our ability to act and lead.
2. Unearth our strong value base
Our personal values are our inner compass for life guiding us to achieve what is really important to us. Creating or renewing a strong base of shared values can help us and those working with us feeling much more aligned and supported when things are getting tough. We can enhance such awareness through conscious communication about our values and their importance for us as guidance. We can pay attention when making decisions to honor our values and demonstrate clear alignment.
3. Build enhanced resilience
This is the top factor of all three. Having said this, resilience cannot exist sustainably without the two aspects mentioned above. For resilience to grow it needs deep foundations in ourselves and a strong value base as a kind of nourishment. What does this mean, one may ask? Let’s use the analogy of a tree where almost the same amount of roots is developed underground as the amount of branches and twigs visible above. Only healthy trees with such a balance between roots and branches can weather almost any storm. How deep do our roots reach? The deeper they are the more they can help us keeping inner calm, no matter what.
How to enhance our resilience further is subject of an interview with Chris Johnstone who published a book on the subject. This will also be presented in this news segment
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